As it turns out, a pet is much more than a furry companion. Research reveals that children who grow up with pets are not only more compassionate and empathetic, but also have higher self-esteem and better social skills.
Compassion develops when kids take care of their furry friends, learn to be gentle with them, and begin to understand their non-verbal cues.
Taking Care Of Pets
According to researchers Nienke Endenburg and Ben Baarda, who wrote the book "The Waltham Book of Human-Animal Interaction", scientific studies indicate that children learn compassion when they help take care of their pets by feeding, walking, or just petting them. James Serpell, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, agrees. He says, "nurturing a pet in the home can be instrumental in developing compassion and social understanding." It has been documented that children who have pets, as compared to children without pets, show more empathy towards people and other animals.
All Children Can Participate
Even very young children can help take care of a pet. A three-year-old can place a cat's food bowl on the floor. A four-year-old can learn how to gently pet a hamster or a turtle. Older children can brush or walk a dog, clean out a bird cage, or feed fresh veggies to a rabbit.
All of these acts help kids develop compassion, by learning to care for something other than themselves. They learn that other creatures have needs too. They learn that it "feels good" to take care of another being.
I Love Animals
I didn't have a pet growing up, as my mother was deathly afraid of animals. As a kid that was hard for me to understand because I've always loved animals. I promised myself that my kids would have a pet. And they did. My boys, Andrew and Zach, grew up with our dog Lucky. They love Lucky so much. We all do. I am grateful that he's part of our family.
I truly love all animals, and don't want to play favorites, but zebras hold a special place in my heart. I'm not 100% sure why. Perhaps it is their majestic stripes, or graceful presence.
I paid homage to these beautiful creatures with our Zebra Swirl Loafers.
Your Turn . . .
Do you have a pet? What's your favorite animal?